"Teaching is about creating those moments where the world suddenly makes a little bit more sense." 

Dr Ben Hanson, Department of Mechanical Engineering 


student holding animal skull with curly tusks

Object-based learning

Dodo bones, original manuscripts and Roman sandals are not just priceless treasures tucked away in UCL's museums and special collections; they are invaluable educational tools.

With three museums open to the public, prized literary and art collections and a growing digital library at its disposal, UCL enjoys a unique position from which to promote object-based learning (OBL) in its teaching.

See how the curators from the specialist collections can help your teaching and research in this video:

Using objects in teaching can develop core skills including team work, evidence-based learning and communication, as well as key research skills such as data collection and analysis, practical observation and drawing skills, literature review techniques and subject-specific knowledge. It can also trigger innovative dissertation topics. 

Joe Cain, senior lecturer in History and Philosophy of Biology, has written Practical concerns when implementing object-based teaching in higher education, a paper that acknowledges the difficulties lecturers may face when planning to use objects in their teaching but also illustrates the rich rewards to be gained from this approach.

"OBL isn't just about objects; it's about teaching, too," he writes. "It's inextricably linked to criticisms of chalk-and-talk lecture styles and to the promotion of active, open-ended, student-centred learning."

For more practical advice, take a look at the informative videos produced by the Museums and Collections team, read case studies on how members of UCL staff are using OBL in their work or visit our page on how to integrate objects into your teaching.


To find out more about object-based learning, contact one of your school teaching fellows or call the Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CALT) on 020 7679 1610 (internal extension 41610).

Page last modified on 19 jun 13 12:25

Tell us about the inspiring teaching and learning taking place in your department: email teaching.learning@ucl.ac.uk